Oyster Steps on Amazon’s Toes with Announcement of Retail E-book Store


Oyster, the e-book subscription service that offers more than 1 million books to digital-age bibilophiles for a flat monthly fee, is going retail.

On Wednesday, the company announced that it is launching an e-book store on its platform. Oyster says it has corralled all of the Big Five publishers to contribute their book offerings to the service, including Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster. That means users can buy and read virtually any book from those publishers on their smartphones or tablets, including new releases and pre-orders. It’s also opening up the store to non-subscribers.

The new retail store is an expansion to Oyster’s existing book subscription service, which some have dubbed “Netflix for Books” because it offers a similar “all you can eat” option, except for books instead of video. The internet already offers an almost limitless number of digital things for individual purchase—books, movies, songs. But increasingly, people are choosing subscription services instead, which lets them get a comprehensive catalog for a few bucks a month instead of downloading each item piecemeal. In Oyster’s case, users pay $9.95 a month for access to books from three of the Big Five publishers.

So why bother adding retail to the equation? According to Oyster, it’s because there’s rarely a way for subscribers to browse and discover certain books on these services—especially new releases and pre-orders. Oyster says it wants its users to have the best of both worlds.

“For us, this is a natural extension of the product to allow the readers to do all of their reading on Oyster,” says CEO Eric Stromberg. “This launch takes the best of what we built with our subscription service and adds the e-book purchase model.”

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